Tuesday, April 19, 2005

All the Terri Schiavo you need to know, Part II

Patterico explains why the 11 Circuit got it wrong. He is absolutely right. My only criticism of his analysis is in the clarity of one point. Patterico writes:

"The courts’ fundamental error was brushing aside the Schindlers’ meritorious argument that the Due Process Clause of the Constitution requires a showing of clear and convincing evidence for the withdrawal of a feeding tube under these circumstances."

Well, not quite. This makes it sound like they totally ignored the issue, which is not the case. Patterico eventually gets around to explaining exactly what he means:

"The 11th Circuit completely skips over the issue of whether the “clear and convincing” standard is required [by the U.S. Constitution], by saying that it doesn’t matter – the state applied the standard, and the appellate courts are not required to second-guess the application of the standard.

"Wrong and wrong. First, the “clear and convincing” standard is unquestionably required in cases like the Schiavo case. Second, given that fact, the appellate court was required to determine (at a minimum) whether a rational factfinder could have decided that the standard was met. Arguably, the federal courts’ duty was more far-reaching: to determine for themselves whether they believed the evidence was clear and convincing."

This is correct, but again, doesn't quite hit the nail on the head. What Patterico means to say, in simple, understandible-to-a-4th-grader language (to paraphrase the movie Philadelphia), was this:
"The 11th Circuit's fundamental error was in determining that because the state of Florida said it applied a 'clear and convincing evidence' standard, it therefore must have applied that standard, and a review of the actual evidence adduced at trial to check whether the state is, well, lying is not required because, you know, the Federal courts have to trust state courts on matters of Federal law. Applying this same reasoning to habeas corpus petitions would mean that none would ever be granted because as long as the state said it applied the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' standard, no evidentiary review would ever take place."

Friday, April 15, 2005

"Punish the rich" ideology

If you are reading this blog, you probably are already well-versed in the massive unfairness of the current U.S. tax code - i.e., the "rich" get soaked while the "poor" pay next to nothing. Rush Limbaugh's homepage has the gory details.

A "news" article from the Christian Science Monitor today argues that the Bush tax cuts are producing a de facto flat tax by giving more tax breaks to the dreaded rich. Regardless of whether the tax burden is "flattening" or not, this paragraph at the beginning of the article caught my eye:

"Ever since the introduction of the modern income tax in 1913, US policy has been guided by the notion that the rich should pay a larger (sic) of their income in federal taxes, since they arguably owe something extra to a government that protects their greater wealth, and to a society that has helped them prosper."
Ok, assuming this rationale is true it says absoultely nothing about the difference between a larger percentage and a larger absolute value. Under a flat tax, the rich will pay more absolute dollars in taxes - the same percentage of a larger amout is larger. Hence, even if they owe something "more" to society for creating more wealth than less productive people (sorry, I just can't help putting the facts straight) they do pay "more" with a flat tax and the CSM article has no point.

The unanswered question is - how much more do the productive (er, "rich") "owe" to society? Notice how the CSM article leaves out a word after "larger." Was this intentional?

Allow me to give a lesson on how the media use statistics to lie about the tax code. The deception is easy because it simply entails mixing up percentages with absolute values.

Let's suppose a "rich" person makes $100,000 per year in taxable income and a "poor" person makes $10,000, again in taxable income. Under a flat tax - say, 20% - Mr. Rich will pay $20,000 in taxes while Mr. Poor will pay $2,000. Now suppose a Republican President and Congress cut the flat tax rate to 15%. Mr. Rich will pay $15,000 while Mr. Poor will pay $1,500. What will the media say?

- Mr. Rich got a tax cut ten times larger than Mr. Poor ($5,000 compared with $500), or
- Mr. Poor's tax cut was only 10% of Mr. Rich's.

That is the most typical type of distortion because it is the easiest, and reporters as a group are not known for their math skills. Here's another deception, used mainly by liberal interest groups (i.e., where someone has more than rudimentary math skills):

Assume the same facts. The media can report the size of the tax cut in multiple ways. They may say it's 5% (20% - 15% = 5%). They may say it is 25%. (Both Mr. Rich and Mr. Poor are paying only 75% of what they would otherwise pay without the tax cut.) Both are mathmatically correct. The deception here is to mix these two. The media ofter report this as Mr. Rich got a 25% tax cut while Mr. Poor got only a 5% tax cut.

Just repeal the Sixteenth Amendment.

Bush's tax cuts work

From the AP (correction, Christian Science Monitor): States collect more taxes, easing fiscal woes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Give LaShawn some props

Though I've been navigating casually around the blogoshpere for a while now, I just discovered LaShawn Barber's blog in a link from XRLQ about New York City's failure to prosecute blacks for the vicious beating of four white women. Thanks, XRLQ, for giving me the link to Ms. Barber's wonderful blog.

Her thoughtful discussion on the inanity of hate crime laws is great. Of course, since LeShawn is a black woman, she seems to get her share of the "race traitor" biz from other "sisters." Case in point, one of the commenters to LaShawn's hate crime post posits this thoughtful observation in her hopes to bring LaShawn back to the cause:

"The Republican party has never done a thing for Black women in this country, and never really cared to do so."

My memory is a little hazy on this point, but I seem to recall a President of the United States by the name of, Albert . . . no, wait, Abraham - that's it - Abraham Lincoln. If memory serves, he was a Republican (big "R"). There was this thing he signed, called the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves who were, I believe, black. Some freed slaves were even black women.

Oh yea, back in the 1960s, the U.S. Congress passed some legislation guaranteeing civil rights to blacks, including black women. If memory serves, more Republicans than democrats voted in favor of that legislation. In fact, there was this one Democrat, former Klu Klux Klan member Robert Byrd, who filibustered that legislation.

Another one I almost forgot. I seem to recall our current President, George W. Bush, who's also a Republican, nominating Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the de facto second highest court in the country, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Brown, if memory serves (I've met her three times), is a black woman. Again, a vote on her confirmation in the Senate was filibustered. Joining the filibuster was none other than former Klu Klux Klan member Robert Byrd, the same shameful excuse of a man who filibustered to deny Justice Brown her basic civil rights in the 1960s.

It's sad, really, that so many blacks think that receiving more goodies from the government, which requires voting Democrat, is somehow better than keeping more of what one earns. For more on the Democrats' shameful record on "helping" blacks, read this by Jay Bryant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Captain strikes back

Captain's Quarters made the front page of Yahoo! news over his ongoing coverage of the Canadial Liberal Party corruption scandal. Go freedom of speech!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

What liberal bias?

The AP has a story on today's news wires, "W.Va. Makes English Its Official Language." Nothing is particularly remarkable about this story except the way it is presented. First, the story is presented with quotes from three legislators that all make it seem like the bill was snuck in at the last minute without the Legislature knowing what is was voting upon. I don't have much quibble with this, as it may be true. (After all, two of the legislators quoted were the Senate Majority Whip and the House Majority leader, Democrats by the way.)

Here's the galling part of the story:

Andrew Schneider, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union [link to ACLU website removed] of West Virginia, said English-only laws are based on the false premise that immigrants will not learn English without government coercion.

"And English-only laws do nothing constructive to increase English proficiency. They simply discriminate and punish those who have not yet learned English," Schneider said.

Meanwhile, Ed Crane, President of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, responded to Mr. Schneider's argument: "West Virginia's decision to make English its official language has very little to do with increasing English proficiency but rather saving West Virginians money by reducing costs of creating and printing every government document in multiple languages. Regardless, multiple studies have shown that immersion in English does produce greater English proficiency for non-native speakers."

Whoops, I made that last paragraph up. The AP story ends with Mr. ACLU guy's opinion and no one else's. No doubt, Mr. AP reporter has Mr. ACLU guy on speed dial ready for a quote on any political story of the day, but has apparently not discovered that there are other opinions - and other well-known, well-funded, and well-respected advocacy groups out there who are not ultra-left wackos.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Wish Citizen Smash's wife a speedy recovery

Everyone should send a note of well-wishing to Citizen Smash whose wife fractured some vertebrae and her pelvis in a fall from a horse. Smash's post is here.

March Madness is, sadly, over

Congratulations to North Carolina, in an extremely fun and compelling final game to watch. Earth to college football - how many people fill out office brackets for meaningless bowl games? See my rant below.

I can now resume regular blogging.

Ok, back to serious stuff, like the death penalty

A common refrain from anti-death penalty proponents (expressed to me recently by a co-worker) is that it is somehow logically inconsistent to kill a murderer to show that society thinks killing is wrong. Like most liberal arguments, it's a nice sound bite, but falls apart under scrutiny. (I don't even need to mention the huge moral difference between who started it and who retaliated.)

How about a few examples of punishments for non-murder crimes. Society punishes kidnappers by forcibly seizing the kidnapper against his will and confining him thereafter against his will for as long as we see fit - essentially exactly what the kidnapper did to his victim. Hmm, is it wrong to punish kidnappers by kidnapping them? Is it logically inconsistent to express society's belief that kidnapping is wrong in this way?

How about stealing money - society punishes those who wrongfully take other's money by taking the wrongdoer's money. And not just by taking back the money that one stole. If that were the only punishment, why not steal and hope you get away with it? After all, if the worse that could happen is you have to give the money back; you're no worse off for the attempt. But, we have punitive damages. In other words, we find it perfectly acceptible to take away even more of a thief's money than he stole - forcibly, against the thief's will. Again, is it wrong, or logically inconsistent, to show society's disapproval of stealing by forcefully taking a thief's money?

The answer to all three is, of course not. There is a reason "an eye for an eye" has been around since Hammurabi. It is perfectly rational, and a perfectly appropriate punishment, to do to a perpetrator exactly what he wrongfully did to someone else. In this way, the perp gets to see how he feels when what he did is done to him. What does this remind you of? If you said the Golden Rule, go to the head of the class. "An eye for an eye" punishment is completely consistent with the Golden Rule and, moreover, reminds us of the flip side to that great moral commandment.

UPDATE: Will liberals spouting the above nonsense similarly criticise the anti-globalization crowd for using cell-phones and the internet to organize anti-globalization rallies? Don't bet on it.

My wife is really pretty

. . . and so is my 10 month old daughter, Claire.